Treo 600 Comprehensively Reviewed by O'Reilly's Wireless DevCenter

I like to think that I wrote the definitive review of the Treo 180 for Slashdot back in 2002. I may someday do a review of the Treo 600 as well, but until I do, I think I will refer people to Ian Darwin's review called Treo 600: Not Your Parents' PalmPilot which was published by the O'Reilly Wireless DevCenter. It's going to be a tough review to top, in many ways.

I like technology product reviews where it seems like the author is talking to you, and giving you insight into his background and environment. I am also partial to reviews where the author tries to use the product in his typical daily work, rather than in isolation. Those are the kind of reviews I try to write, and Ian Darwin and I are obviously from the same school in that respect.

In the course of this review, you find out little things about him like:

  • he's Canadian,
  • he uses Rogers Wireless, a GSM/GPRS-based provider which is comparable to AT&T Wireless in the States,
  • he previously owned a Treo 180 and loved it, and
  • he uses Macintosh OS X.

Little of this actually matters that much to the overall review, but it does provide the kind of context and depth that allows me to turn off my super-inquisitive mode. If he hadn't mentioned these things, I would have gone through the screenshots in the review and seen things like "ROGERS" and "sympatico.ca", and said to myself, "he must be Canadian!" and not focused as much on the substance of the review.

Since Ian Darwin is an ex-Treo 180 user, he was an excellent choice to do this review. He can speak from experience about how much of an improvement the Treo 600 is over its predecessors like the 180, 270, and 300.

I think it's important to understand the amount of customer feedback that was factored into the design of the Treo 600. This review highlights that, and simultaneously provides information about other important aspects like how solid and well built the 600 feels compared to other mobile phones.

If you've read Operation Gadget recently, you know that my Treo 180 lid broke right at the point of maximum stress, and that I sought out a replacement for it on eBay rather than spend bigger money on upgrading. I'm pretty sure I want a Treo 600 of my own someday as my key mobile device, and the most critical aspect of any Treo 600 review to me is did Handspring/palmOne address the durability issues with the first-generation Communicators? This review addresses that question and probably most others that are likely to spring up in readers' minds.

Ian's review also includes must haves like:

  • box contents,
  • size comparisons with other mobile phones,
  • photos of critical parts of the device like the keyboard and the five-way navigation button,
  • screen shots of many Treo 600 applications with detailed explanations,
  • illustrations of proxy-free web browsing, one of the key improvements over previous Treos, and
  • real-world battery life estimates, and illustration of what the Treo does when it is running out of power.

Ian Darwin covered a lot of territory in this review, and it's hard for me to think of anything I would want to know that he did not mention. I think this is a must read for anyone who is considering purchase of a Treo 600, and is probably the best single review I've seen of the device up to now.